Berliner Tageblatt - Ship that destroyed Baltimore bridge set to move Monday

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Ship that destroyed Baltimore bridge set to move Monday
Ship that destroyed Baltimore bridge set to move Monday / Photo: © AFP/File

Ship that destroyed Baltimore bridge set to move Monday

A stranded cargo ship that has been blocking one of America's busiest ports will be removed Monday nearly two months after it struck and destroyed a bridge in Baltimore, authorities said over the weekend.

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The complex operation would see the nearly 1,000-foot (300-meter) Dali container vessel transported to a marine terminal, marking a major step in reopening the key shipping channel.

The Singapore-flagged ship lost power before it plowed into a support column of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, causing it to collapse and killing six construction workers who had been atop the major transit route.

The accident shut down the port, though temporary channels have allowed some traffic in and out of Baltimore.

Authorities leading the salvage operation said the Dali would be prepared for refloating from midday (1600 GMT) Sunday ahead of being moved at high tide on Monday, forecast for 5:24 am.

Divers will first inspect the ship to ensure there are no obstructions after demolition experts last week used explosives to remove parts of the collapsed steel bridge trapping the Dali, which still has its 21-man crew onboard.

Salvagers will then draw out up to 1.25 million gallons (4.7 million liters) of water previously pumped into the Dali to stabilize it as ballast, before releasing its anchors and mooring lines.

Tugboats will transport the Dali at around 1 mile per hour (1.6 kilometers per hour) to a nearby marine terminal, with the journey expected to take three hours.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore told NBC News on Sunday he was "proud that we're on track and by the end of May we'll have that federal channel reopened."

Authorities have been working around the clock to clear the fallen bridge and reopen the waterway after it was rendered impassable due to the sprawling wreckage.

The port is a key hub for the auto industry, handling almost 850,000 autos and light trucks last year -- more than any other US port, according to state figures.

In April the FBI launched a criminal probe into the incident, with its agents boarding the Dali as part of the investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is also investigating, said on Tuesday the ship had two electricity blackouts in the moments before the the disaster.

It also said the crew had been tested multiple times, before and after the disaster, for drugs and alcohol, and that none had showed.

F.Müller--BTB